Michael D. Clark reports:
The pileup of school closures brought on by winter’s arctic cold and record snowfall has also buried the usual annual student testing dates for the spring.
The Ohio Achievement Assessment testing period for grades three to eight will be postponed a week to April 21-May 16, said officials at the Ohio Department of Education.
Annual testing dates for the Ohio Graduation Test, however, remain in place, said officials.
“Because of the extreme winter Ohio is experiencing and the large number of calamity days that have been observed, the department of education has decided to expand by a week the testing window for the Ohio Achievement Assessments,” said John Charlton, spokesman for the state education department.
“We want to provide those same leaders with some flexibility regarding the assessments so they have the ability to give teachers and students more time to prepare.”
The ratings are the most public and significant measures of Ohio’s 613 school districts. They can affect everything from school levy campaigns to residential and commercial real estate values and student enrollment levels, which are also tied to a district’s state funding.
From the first day of each school year, school schedules and curricula are meticulously planned in large measure to prepare students for the state-mandated tests.
“Due to inclement weather, district and school leaders have faced unprecedented challenges as they have made the safety of our boys and girls their top priority,” Richard Ross, education department superintendent, said in a statement.
“However, they have expressed concern about missed instructional time and the need to prepare students for the assessments. We feel it is important to provide educational leaders with flexibility.”
The first three weeks of the new schedule will be student test weeks, with the remaining time used for makeup testing for students who missed the earlier rounds of exams.
Calamity day bill roils statehouse
Think your school might get out of making up some of its snow days?
Not so fast.
Ohio schools can cancel up to five days of class for a “calamity,” such as bad weather, without having to make up the days – many schools, in fact, have already exceeded the limit this winter.
That’s where the Statehouse comes in: A bill likely to get a vote in the Ohio House next week would give schools four additional make-up-free days.
But lawmakers are divided. One reason: Schools are already required to include five make-up days in their calendars to allow for cancellations beyond the five-day calamity limit. Up to three of those days can be waived through additional work, such as “blizzard bags.”
If the bill passes the House, the Senate would likely change it to require schools to use those five additional make-up days before taking extra calamity days.
Another reason for the divide: It’s expensive. Nine calamity days are expected to cost $700 million.
But the bill might not pass the House in the first place. Lawmakers are concerned that the state would still have to pay for nine days of teachers’ salaries without any additional educational benefit.
“A lot of members of this body, they don’t like this bill at all. There’s a lot of anxiety about spending $700 million of taxpayer money and getting nothing in return,” said Rep. Gerald Stebelton, R-Lancaster, who chairs the House’s education committee.
Chrissie Thompson contributed.